Ultrastructure of the digestive tract of Gyliauchen nahaensis (Platyhelminthes, Digenea), an inhabitant of the hindgut of herbivorous fishes.J Morphol. 2000 Dec; 246(3):198-211.JM
Digenean parasites of vertebrates usually amplify the surface area of their gut by increasing the size of the absorptive caeca. Some members of the family Gyliauchenidae, however, have relatively small caeca but have a greatly expanded foregut. The morphology of the elongate gut of the digenean Gyliauchen nahaensis, an inhabitant of herbivorous fish of the family Siganidae, was examined by light and transmission electron microscopy. The extensive foregut, consisting of a mouth, pharynx, and esophagus, is lined with a syncytial tegument-like lining, which is connected to nucleated cell bodies sunken in the parenchyma. The apical cytoplasm in the mouth and anterior regions of the pharynx resembles that of the general body tegument, although some regional specialization is present. The lining of posterior regions of the pharynx is armed with large apical projections, which are thought to serve as filtration structures. The lining of the anterior and middle esophagus displays a peculiar form of surface amplification involving the formation of elongate flask-shaped invaginations of the apical cytoplasm. The cell bodies associated with these regions are rich in secretory vesicles and it is proposed that these regions of the esophagus are expanded to promote extracellular digestion. The posterior region of the esophagus lacks the invaginations of other esophageal regions, but displays instead large surface projections. The caeca consists of columnar cells lined by extensive apical microlamellae. The peculiar gut morphology of G. nahaensis, coupled with alterations in the arrangement of suckers, is interpreted to be an adaptation to the predominantly herbivorous diets of the definitive hosts.